Natural Hazards

, Volume 38, Issue 1–2, pp 101–120 | Cite as

People at Risk of Flooding: Why Some Residents Take Precautionary Action While Others Do Not

Article

Abstract

Self-protective behavior by residents of flood-prone urban areas can reduce monetary flood damage by 80%, and reduce the need for public risk management. But, research on the determinants of private households’ prevention of damage by natural hazards is rare, especially in Germany. To answer the question of why some people take precautionary action while others do not, a socio-psychological model based on Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) is developed, explaining private precautionary damage prevention by residents’ perceptions of previous flood experience, risk of future floods, reliability of public flood protection, the efficacy and costs of self-protective behavior, their perceived ability to perform these actions, and non-protective responses like wishful thinking. The validity of the proposed model is explored by means of representative quantitative telephone surveys and regression analyses, and compared with a socio-economic model (including residents’ age, gender, income, school degree and being owner or tenant). Participants were 157 residents of flood-prone homes in Cologne, Germany, a city that has traditionally been subject to minor and major flood events. Results of the study show the explanatory power of the socio-psychological model, with important implications for public risk communication efforts. To motivate residents in flood-prone areas to take their share in damage prevention, it is essential to communicate not only the risk of flooding and its potential consequences, but also the possibility, effectiveness and cost of private precautionary measures.

Keywords

adaptation adaptive capacity damage mitigation flood preparedness natural disasters protection motivation self-efficacy self-protective behavior 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abraham, S. C. S., Sheeran, P., Abrams, D., Spears, R. 1994Exploring teenagers’ adaptive and maladaptive thinking in relation to the threat of HIV infectionPsychol. Health9253272Google Scholar
  2. Bell, P., Fisher, J., Baum, A., Greene, T. 1990Environmental Psychology3Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.Fort WorthGoogle Scholar
  3. Bryman, A., Cramer, D. 1994Quantitative Data Analysis for Social ScientistsRoutledgeLondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bunting, T. E., Guelke, L. 1979Behavioral and perception geography: a critical appraisalAnn. Assoc. Am. Geogr.69448462Google Scholar
  5. Eppright, D. R., Tanner, J. F.,Jr., Hunt,  1994Knowledge and the ordered protection motivation model: Tools for preventing AIDSJ. Bus. Res.301324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans, G., Cohen, S. 1987

    Environmental stress

    Stokols, D.Altman, I. eds. Handbook of Environmental PsychologyJohn Wiley & SonsNew York
    Google Scholar
  7. Festinger, L.: 1957, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Row, Peterson, Evanston/IIIGoogle Scholar
  8. Fink, A., Ulbrich, U., Engel, H. 1996Aspects of the January 1995 flood in GermanyWeather513439Google Scholar
  9. Floyd, D. L., Prentice-Dunn, S., Rogers, R. W. 2000A meta-analysis of research on protection motivation theoryJ. Appl. Soc. Psychol.30407429Google Scholar
  10. Flynn, M. F., Lyman, R. D., Prentice-Dunn, S. 1995Protection motivation theory and adherence to medical treatment regimens for muscular dystrophyJ. Soc. Clin. Psychol.146175Google Scholar
  11. Gardner, G. 1978Effects of federal human subjects regulations on data obtained in environmental stressor researchJ. Pers. Soc. Psychol.36628634Google Scholar
  12. International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine: 2002, Non structural flood plain management – measures and their effectiveness. http://www.iksr.org/pdf/RZ_iksr_engl.pdf
  13. Kunreuther, H.: 1978, Even Noah built an ark. The Wharton Magazine (Summer), pp. 28–35Google Scholar
  14. Lindell, M. K., Perry, R. W. 2000Household adjustment to earthquake hazard: A review of researchEnviron. Behav.32461501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McCarthy, J. J., Canziani, O. F., Leary, N. A. J., Dokken, D. J. and White, K. S. (Eds.): 2001, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  16. McGuire, W. J. 1985

    Attitudes and Attitude Change

    Lindzey, G.Aronson, E. eds. Handbook of Social PsychologyRandom HouseNew York233346
    Google Scholar
  17. Milne, S., Sheeran, P., Orbell, S. 2000Prediction and Intervention in Health-Related Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of Protection Motivation TheoryJ. Appl. Soc. Psychol.30106143Google Scholar
  18. Mulilis, J.-P., Lippa, R. 1990Behavioral change in earthquake preparedness due to negative threat appeals: a test of protection motivation theoryJ. Appl. Soc. Psychol.20619638Google Scholar
  19. Munich Re: 2002, Annual Review: Natural Catastrophes 2002. Topics. http://www.munichre.com/ pdf/topics_2002_e.pdf
  20. Peek, L. A., Mileti, D. S. 2002

    The history and future of disaster research

    Bechtel,  R. B.Churchman, A. eds. Handbook of Environmental PsychologyJohn Wiley & SonsNew York511524
    Google Scholar
  21. Rippetoe, P. A., Rogers, R. W. 1987Effects of components of protection motivation theory on adaptive and maladaptive coping with a health threatJ. Pers. Soc. Psychol.52596604Google Scholar
  22. Rogers, R. W. 1983

    Cognitive and physiological processes in fear appeals and attitude change: A revised theory of protection motivation

    Cacioppo, B. L.Petty, L. L. eds. Social Psychophysiology: A SourcebookGuilfordLondon, UK153176
    Google Scholar
  23. Rogers, R. W., Prentice-Dunn, S. 1997

    Protection motivation theory

    Gochman, D. S. eds. Handbook of Health Behavior Research. I: Personal and Social DeterminantsPlenumNew York, NY113132
    Google Scholar
  24. Schwarzer, R. 1992

    Self-efficacy in the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors: Theoretical approaches and a new model

    Schwarzer, R. eds. Self-efficacy: Thought Control of ActionHemisphereWashington, DC217243
    Google Scholar
  25. Schwarzer, R., Fuchs, R. 1996

    Self-efficacy and health behaviors

    Conner, M.Norman,  P. eds. Predicting Health Behavior: Research and Practice with Social Cognition ModelsOpen University PressBuckingham, UK163196
    Google Scholar
  26. Tanner, J. F.,Jr., Day, E., Crask, M. R. 1989Protection motivation theory: An extension of fear appeals theory in communicationJ. Bus. Res.19267276Google Scholar
  27. Velde, F. W., Pligt, J. 1991AIDS-related health behavior: Coping, protection motivation, and previous behaviorJ. Behav. Med.14429451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Weinstein, N. D. 1989Effects of personal experience on self-protective behaviorPsychol. Bull.1053150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Weinstein, N. D., Rothman, A. J., Nicolich, M. 1998Using correlations to study relationships between risk perceptions and preventive behaviorPsychol. Health13479501Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Global Change and Social SystemsPotsdam-Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdam Germany

Personalised recommendations